Certain foods may increase the risk of heart disease – however, changing eating habits can lead you to achieve your health goals. Whether you want to change your unhealthy eating habits or simply refine your diet plan, here is a heart-healthy diet that will help you reach your health and fitness objectives.
Once you understand which foods are suitable and which foods you need to limit – you will be on the right track toward a heart-healthy diet.
Here are a few simple rules to follow when eating a heart-healthy diet.
Control your portion size
Controlling your portion size is quite important to starting any diet plan. Avoid overloading your plates, and do not wait to get yourself stuffed with the food. That will end up eating more calories than you need.
It is good to follow these rules to control your portion size.
- Always make use of a small bowl or a plate.
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet consisting of more fruits and vegetables and having a low-calorie content.
- Eat only a small portion of high-calorie or processed food. However, it is best to avoid it completely.
- Keep an eye on the number of servings you eat per day. Follow the recommended amount of food and its serving.
- The serving size may vary according to the type of diet and other guidelines you are following under a diet plan. You may use measuring cups, bowls, and spoons to control your serving size.
Fill up your plate with more fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of essential minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. They have a low-calorie count and a good amount of dietary fiber. There are plenty of substances in fruits and vegetables that help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet will help you cut your calories and reduce the intake of high-calorie food such as refined or processed food, meat, and high sodium-containing foods.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is quite easy. Always keep a stock of fresh fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator.
Choose different types of recipes to add more variety to your diet. Stir fry your vegetables, try a mixed fruit salad, or make a smoothie while using your favorite fruits and vegetables.
Limit the intake of unhealthy fats
High intake of unhealthy fats can lead to high blood cholesterol levels and increase the chances of coronary artery disease.
This high cholesterol level in the blood can lead to a buildup of plaques in your blood arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis which can increase the chances of a heart attack.
It is best to avoid trans fats entirely and replace them with healthy unsaturated fats. For that, increase the intake of fish and nuts in your diet.
There are plenty of ways to reduce the intake of saturated and Trans fats in your diet.
- Always choose lean meat and trim off the extra fats.
- Make use of less oil while cooking your food.
- Instead of frying your food, it is good to bake, steam, and toast them in a small amount of butter.
- Make a habit of checking the food labels of store-bought food items.
- It is good to choose olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, and fish.
- Avoid lard, bacon, kernel oil, margarine, shortening, and cocoa butter.
While choosing your healthy fats, it is good to pick a small amount of olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. These Polyunsaturated fats will help you achieve good heart health, but moderation is always recommended.
You can add healthy fats to your diet in different ways.
- The best way to add healthy fats to your diet is to use flax seeds and nuts. You can add a teaspoon of these healthy polyunsaturated fats to your diet by adding them to your yogurt, milk, hot cereal, or Applesauce.
- Use only 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil while cooking your food.
- Similarly, make a toast with slices of half avocado and top it with a poached egg.
Eat more protein
If you are on a heart-healthy diet – it is recommended to eat more protein like lean meat, poultry, and fish. Eggs are also a good source of protein.
Make sure to add more low-fat options like skinless chicken, breast, and skimmed milk instead of full-fat.
Fish is another good source of protein, and it is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Other healthy options to add more protein to your diet include beans, peas, lentils, and cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel.
Avoid bacon, fried food, organ meat, full-fat milk, processed meat, and its products such as hot dogs and sausages.
Switch to whole grains
As we all know, whole grains are a good source of fiber and other nutrients. Whole grains play an important role in maintaining your blood pressure and achieving good heart health.
You need to increase the intake of whole-grain foods in your diet and replace refined grain products. The best options are whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread, brown rice, barley, buckwheat, and whole-wheat pasta.
Avoid white refined flour, bread, doughnuts, biscuits, cakes, white pasta, waffles, and other high carbs products.
Reduce the intake of salt in your diet
Reducing salt intake must be at the top of a heart-healthy diet. Eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and other heart diseases.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day, which is equivalent to nearly a teaspoon of salt.
A big portion of salt comes from processed and canned foods. It is beneficial to consume fresh foods and prepare recipes with less salt.
Do not forget to read the label of the canned or processed food items. If you do not want to avoid canned foods due to their convenience, make sure to buy those with no added salts.
Instead of using salt to add flavor to your foods, use different herbs, spices, and condiments to enhance the flavor and taste of your recipes.
Switch to low salt items such as salt-free seasonings, herbs, and spices. Reduce the intake of table salt, canned foods, ketchup, mayonnaise, soya sauce, and other store-bought foods.
Pre-plan your meals
Once you’ve determined which foods to include in your heart-healthy diet and which to avoid, it’s time to plan your menu.
- Make a list of all the desired food items and shape them into a grocery list.
- When choosing your meals or snacks, prefer more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Limit the intake of salt.
- Control your portion size and add variety to your daily food menu. For example, if you have grilled chicken breast for lunch, try a black bean burger for your dinner. It will help you add variety to your diet by providing you with all the nutrients.
Don’t fear serving yourself with an occasional treat
While following a heart-healthy diet, it is necessary to stick to healthy foods, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely avoid your favorite foods.
Give yourself a treat with a chocolate bar or a handful of fries every now and then. But make sure don’t make it a habit. Try to balance things out over the long term.
If you want to eat a heart-healthy diet, include the foods listed above in your diet. These foods will help you get a healthy heart with other health benefits.
With proper planning and a few simple replacements: it is possible to get a healthy heart with minimum effort.